The “big new Dodge” 880 and Custom 880 were variants of the 1962 Chrysler Newport that were sold only for a few short years, from 1962 to 1965, so that Dodge would have vehicles to compete with full sized Chevrolets after its own vehicles were downsized. In essence, the 880 was simply a Newport with a Polara front clip. In mid-1962, the Custom 880 debuted; the 880 and Custom 880 were both sold in 1963, with the main model-year difference being more body styles in 1963. The Chrysler Newport and 300 non-letter cars were changed for 1963, so the 880 was only near-identical to the Newport for about half of one year. The 880 was also changed for 1963, with better interiors, new round tail-lights surrounded by chrome, a new oval grille, and more badging.
The final redesign was the biggest; under Elwood Engle, the outside look was modernized and simplified, with tasteful use of stainless steel and chrome and big wraparound tail-lights, while the Custom 880 gained a nicer interior with foam padded seats and stainless steel rocker-panel trim. Styling emphasized long and smooth. Dodge’s delta symbol was placed on the front of each fender, partly for decoration and partly to help drivers figure out where the corners were. Side ornamentation was kept simple with a thin, single line moulding and the Dodge name in block letters at the rear fenders. The tail lights were “bold” and horizontal, with wide lenses wrapping completely around the rear fenders and extending part way across the back of the car. A large back window extended into the roof.
The 880 was replete with features such as optional seven-position tilt wheel and four-speed (rather than three speed) floor-shift manual transmission. Air conditioning was “more effective” and Dodge touted their faster starting, better economy, and stronger acceleration. The interior had “the luxury of soft vinyls, fine fabrics, and subdued colors.” Five colors, to be exact - blue, tan, red, turquoise, and gold. A new instrument cluster was used (the past one had been around since 1961, an eternity in those days).
Two engines were available in 1964, a 265 horsepower 361 V8 and a 305 horsepower 383 V8, sharing a 3.38” stroke (with bores of 4.12” and 4.25” respectively; horsepower was gross, that is, measured at the crank). Torque was a stunning 380 lb-ft for the 361 and 410 for the 383; peak torque was at a low 2,4000 rpm. The 361 ran on regular gas, with a 9:1 compression ratio, while the 383, with a 10:1 ratio, required premium. Wheels were 14 inches in diameter; but the tank held 23 gallons of gas.
Station wagons were always low sellers, and because of tooling expenses they generally did not change as often. Throughout the 880’s run, the wagons kept much of the 1961 models’ stampings.
1964 saw six models, including a hardtop or convertible; all used a medium-sized (for the time) 122 inch wheelbase.
In 1965, Elwood Engel led another cosmetic change of the 880, bringing more conventional angles and fewer curves; the 880 was replaced by a resized Dodge Polara, while the Custom 880 stood above the Polara. The Dodge Monaco two-door hardtop was on top of the Dodge lineup while the Dart anchored the bottom. The Custom 880 included foam padded seats, stainless steel window frames, and vinyl interiors as standard, along with a six-window sedan and faux-wood-trimmed wagon (using Di-Noc).
Even at its peak, the 880 never sold even half as well as the Chrysler Newport on which it was based; sales were always below 35,000 units per year, even though there numerous body styles and annual styling changes. The Custom 880 was replaced by an expanded Dodge Monaco range in 1966. Sales immediately jumped to 37,900 Monacos.
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